Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Reading Stack: A Treasure of Novels and Two Special Books of Poetry

"What are you going to do during the holidays?" That's a question I hear often this time of year. My rather ambitious plans are to read some of the wonderful-looking books on my "to read" bookshelves. Notice I said "bookshelves" with an s. I've lost count of the novels and other books there, many written by my author friends.

Here's a small sampling of what I intend to read soon and write about here on Winterville Writer. They're in no particular order and I'm looking forward to them all.

Elegies for the Water: Poems by Philip Lee Williams. Phil was my very first editor (as an adult) back when I wrote columns for The Athens Observer, a popular alternative weekly newspaper published in my hometown of Athens, and I count him as a dear friend and writing mentor. Phil has published 14 books over the years, including his first, The Heart of a Distant Forest, and A Distant Flame, which won the prestigious Michael Shaara Award. Phil began his writing career by writing poetry. Believe it or not, this is his first published book of poetry and I'm looking forward to curling up on the futon by the fire in our den and taking it all in (I've sampled it already and I know I'm in for a treat!) I'll also be reading his new novel, The Campfire Boys, soon. Published not long after his book of poetry, this book is the story of Civil War camp entertainers told via fiction. Watch this blog for my reviews of both of these recent Philip Lee Williams' books.

So, what else is on Donny Bailey Seagraves' reading shelves? There's The Cracker Queen by my Cracker Queen friend, Lauretta Hannon. This bestselling book is already out in an audio edition, though as Lauretta shared with us at her recent book signing at the Athens Barnes and Noble, the reader is not from the South!

Also on my shelf is a slender volume of poetry, The History of Nursing, by my friend and fellow author, Anne Webster, who happens to be the younger sister of noted author and poet, Rosemary Daniell. I've sampled several of Anne's poems from this book which was nominated for a National Book Award and can hardly wait to finish the rest and tell you about them in a review. Anne worked for many years as a registered nurse in the Atlanta area. She gives readers an inside look into nursing plus shares much more. Stay tuned for the full review.

Another book I'm looking forward to reading is The Confederate General Rides North by Decatur author, Amanda Gable. An interesting thing about Amanda's book is that she also has an eleven-year old main character, as I do in my debut middle grade novel, Gone From These Woods. But Amanda's book, which is her debut, was published as an adult novel. I'm looking forward to reading her story and sharing my review with you here.

Bitter Tide by my friend and fellow writer Ann Stamos (Judy Iakovou) is very near the top of my reading stack and I'm eager to get into it. It tells a story of Ellis Island and emigrants who came to the United States through that place. I'm a big fan of Judy's previous mystery novels with co-author and husband Takis, so I know I'll enjoy this latest publication.

Since I write books for children and young adults, of course there are middle grade and young adult novels in my reading stack. One is Road to Tater Hill by my fellow Delacorte Press author, Edith M. Hemingway. Edie tells a story of death and loss in a North Carolina family in her novel debut. I'll be reading it soon and sharing more about it with you on this blog.

Two other childrens' books that are rising to the top of my reading stack are Susan Rosson Spain's The Deep Cut and Fran Cannon Slayton's When The Whistle Blows. Susan's book is set during the Civil War and is based on a family story. Fran's book, also based on her own family, is about a town, a train and a boy named Jimmy Cannon.

These books will be gifts to me this holiday season as I happily read through many pages in front of the fire. I hope you also find time to read.